Jamie Grossman is the wonderful blogger behind Hudson Valley Sketches, and she’s well known in the mixed media/watercolor community as well as for her oil and acrylic paintings of the Hudson River and surroundings at her Hudson Valley Painter website. She started doing some interesting UV lightfastness tests with random fountain pen inks that she has. After seeing her tests I thought it was really interesting to see which inks held up to the abuse, and which ones didn’t! Noodler’s has a whole line of inks that rated as eternal, which tout UV-resistance. Now, these inks aren’t UV-proof, just resistant, and I was curious to know just how much. I approached Jamie about supplying her with the inks in exchange for her work of doing the testing for all 32 of the Noodler’s inks I have that tout UV resistance. 

Jamie will be updating and sharing her findings on her blog, and we’re even planning to have her on Write Time to talk about all of the cool stuff she does and this Noodler’s UV test (official date pending). There’s really no reason for us doing this test other than mere curiosity and the sake of conversation in our respective communities, so join us as we discover how these inks fare.

Here is Jamie’s post from her blog, I will be reposing her results as she updates her blog:

Brian contacted me regarding some lightfastness testing I’ve been doing on a number of inks. So far I’ve tested 39 fountain pen inks. (If you haven’t seen those results, you can click here and then keep scrolling down to see them all.) Whether or not lightfastness is an important issue is a decision you need to make for yourself, and your particular applications. Having the information available is always a good thing, and it gives us one more factor to consider when choosing an ink for a specific job.

In the interest of providing information to his customers, Brian suggested a collaborative venture to test all of the Noodler’s Eternal inks, and have those results available on Inknouveau. Although some of my previous testing did include some of these inks, having them all done together at the same time, and available here, will be a good resource for those times when some UV resistance is important. The line of Noodler’s Eternal Inks includes the following:

  • Noodler’s Bad Black Moccasin
  • Noodler’s Black
  • Noodler’s Blackerase Waterase
  • Noodler’s El Lawrence
  • Noodler’s Heart of Darkness
  • Noodler’s Polar Black
  • Noodler’s X-Feather
  • Noodler’s Lexington Gray
  • Noodler’s Whiteness of the Whale
  • Noodler’s Blue Ghost
  • Noodler’s Bad Belted Kingfisher
  • Noodler’s Bad Blue Heron
  • Noodler’s Luxury Blue
  • Noodler’s Periwinkle
  • Noodler’s Polar Blue
  • Noodler’s Bad Green Gator
  • Noodler’s Hunter Green
  • Noodler’s Polar Green
  • Noodler’s Dostoyevsky
  • Noodler’s Year of the Golden Pig
  • Noodler’s Empire Red
  • Noodler’s Fox
  • Noodler’s Rachmaninoff
  • Noodler’s Socrates
  • Noodler’s Tchaikovsky
  • Noodler’s Kung Te-Cheng
  • Noodler’s La Reine Mauve
  • Noodler’s Mata Hari’s Cordial
  • Noodler’s Pasternak
  • Noodler’s #41 Brown (2012)
  • Noodler’s Polar Brown
  • Noodler’s Whaleman’s Sepia

I selected a Stillman & Birn Alpha 7×10″ Wirebound book as my paper to do the tests. It’s nicely sized, acid free, archival, heavy weight, doesn’t have too much tooth, and is a clean bright white. Brian sent the 32 ink samples to me, and I got busy making swabs, crosshatches and washes to test in my studio window.

The ink samples were sorted by color group according to where Brian placed them in the Goulet Swab Shop, then by alphabetical order within that group. All writing was done with a glass dip pen (including the crosshatched sections), which was washed and dried between samples. Artists who use fountain pens are often interested in knowing how much an ink’s lines will wash with a water-filled brush after the ink is dry, so I washed a portion of the crosshatched sections with a wet brush. That also spread the ink thinner, providing additional information as the UV light interacts with the ink. Here are the prepared pages. You can click on any image for a larger, clearer version:

Black, Gray, White, Clear (Blue Ghost):
  

(My apologies for some ghosting on a couple of these images, due to the next page showing through a bit. I didn’t realize that was happening until I was adjusting the images, and it’s not too relevant at this stage in the process.)

Blues:
 
Greens, Turquoise, Yellow:

Red, Pink, Magenta:

Purples:

Browns:

The pages were then cut down the centers vertically, so that the name of the ink and half of each swatch is on each side. The right sides of the pages will go in my south-facing studio window. The left sides will remain in the closed, wirebound book, where they will be in total darkness. Here they are, all set to go:

Most fountain pen inks are more fugitive than you’d think. That may not matter if whatever you write will not be exposed to UV light in its application, but it is certainly a reason to keep all of your inks stored in darkness.  Even colors in artists’ paints that fade very quickly, like genuine alizarin crimson, take many times longer to show signs of change than inks. Some inks start fading in just a matter of days. Others take six months or more. I’ll be able to post some preliminary results in about a month, so stay tuned!